Japan’s space program suffered a significant setback when the first launch of the country’s new H3 rocket failed.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the H3 rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center on March 7, but the ignition of the second-stage engine was not confirmed.
As a result, the destruct command was sent from the ground, and the onboard Earth observation satellite “Daichi No. 3” was not placed in its intended orbit.
JAXA corrected the anomaly, and the launch was rescheduled for March 10.
This is the latest in a series of failures for JAXA, as the agency missed the small Epsilon 6 booster launch in October 2022.
These successive failures will inevitably have an impact on Japan’s space program.
The H3 rocket is the successor to the current H2A rocket, which has been in service since 2001.
It is also the first new domestic launch vehicle in 29 years since the H2 rocket debuted in 1994.
The H3 rocket will be the centerpiece of Japan’s space transportation for the next 20 years.
The first launch of the H3 rocket was initially scheduled for 2020 but has been delayed twice due to problems such as cracks in the moving blades of the new main engine turbine.
The H3 rocket is 63 meters long and 5.2 meters in diameter.
It is one size larger than the H2A and has 1.3 times the satellite launch capacity.
JAXA aims to reduce the cost of development and components to about JPY 5 billion, half the price of the H2A in its smallest form, by reducing the cost of a single launch.
Daichi No. 3 is the latest optical satellite for observing the Earth’s surface with visible light.
Its resolution is more than three times that of the first-generation Daichi retired in 2011.
The satellite was designed for disaster monitoring and mapping data collection.
Despite the setback, JAXA remains committed to its mission and will continue to work to ensure the success of its space program.